Battle-Academy-2--Eastern-Front-Review Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front Review

   23/09/2014 at 09:41       Clayton Clive       0 COMMENTS. - Score 5/5
 - Turn Based, Strategy, Slitherine Games, War, What is it Good For?

Battle Academy 2 throws you into command of either Axis or Allies during the largest military confrontation in history. Without much time in the academy. I didn't discover the broader original which took you as far as the African theatre of war, but I have always preferred the cold. 

Battle Academy 2 is a turn based strategy game with the balance of detail and depth to keep you buoyant, avoiding any chance of suffocation in complexity. It's crammed with enough units to make you feel like a spoilt child in a sweet shop. "All the panzers please sir! With a seasoning of flame panzers. And a side of Tiger tanks. Many thanks." These units main attributes are easy to ignore not seeming to have a major impact on battles, but they do have a secondary set of idiosyncrasies that have a more visible impact on the path of a battle. Such as being prone to bogging down, or being a smaller target. 

The tutorial will give you the basics of the UI and how combat works. Then it's a bit of trial and error as you now try to master the game. Of course there are 3 difficulty settings, the hardest being that there are no statistical advantages. All units are as is. I can see no other way to play. If you avoid all the obvious errors, like charging into an urban area with tanks and no support, or leaving infantry in the open is a ticket to die, you will realise you have an intense battle game with challenging AI where victory is usually just as close as defeat. 

Urban combat is an edge of your swivelling generals seat affair. Infantry units hidden within the buildings are impossible to see unless one of your units is adjacent, meaning you must painstakingly flush through the buildings with your troops whilst your tanks supply suppressing fire hoping to get lucky and take out a hidden target. Tanks also have a reduced line of sight, as you'd expect, so pushing through farmland with tanks is asking for trouble before you've even seen it. The AI has gently caressed me into a false sense of security to make that mistake before. They'll move in, take a few shots, move back, you will follow, and wham! Straight into a row of enemy tanks patiently waiting for you.

The four campaigns are varied and challenging, each mission is greeted by a short comic to set the scene. Reminiscent of the Commando comics of old without the occasional eccentric, cliché oozing fascism. I fell deeply in love with every one of these short strips. You could sink endless hours into the campaign missions quite happily but what really brings Battle Academy 2 alive is the skirmish system. Something I believe wasn't included in the original. You are able to set up your own skirmish with a system of sliders to decide if you battle in an urban area, farmland or wasteland. If it is snowy, army strength, map size, and more. The map is then generated brilliantly. These random maps do not prevent the AI from consistently challenging you to your limits with crafty placement of units and shrewd air attacks. 

Whenever I have a free hour I have been cramming in a quick skirmish on BA2, they're always varied, the combat has so many different outcomes the battles always feel fresh giving this game ultimate replayability. Sure this game lacks those graphics that are so wonderful it makes you believe in creation by design, but it is so rich in all other aspects of gameplay I haven't cared a bit. That can be tended to by the modding community if the lack of variety in buildings truly irks you anyway. Battle Academy 2 is a solid experience that I could easily recommend to anyone that enjoys a good turn-based strategy and a good place to start throwing those virtual dice if someone wanted a jumping on point.

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